« ZurückWeiter »
bar, who said that in the course of his duty as one of the Lunacy Commissioners, he saw the present plaintiff, Miss Louisa Nottidge, on two occasions, whilst she was a patient in the establishment of Dr. Stillwell
. The case of that lady had previously been the subject of much inquiry and discussion amongst the commissioners at the various meetings. He saw the lady, in the first instance, in the company of Dr. Pritchard, and on that occasion, from his examination of the lady, he was quite satisfied of her unsoundness of mind. Unfortunately, Dr. Pritchard had died since; but he could state that that lamented and able gentleman had entertained a much stronger opinion even than himself as to the plaintiff being a very fit object for confinement in the asylum.
The LORD CHIEF BARON.—Mr. Mylne, was this lady in such a state of mind as to be dangerous to herself or to others ?
Mr. MYLNE.—Not so as I was aware of; not so far as I knew.
The LORD CHIEF BARON.-If she were not so, then, how was it that you kept her in this asylum for seventeen months ?
Mr. MYLNE.-My lord, it was no part of my duty to keep her there. I was only to liberate her if I saw good and sufficient reason for adopting that course.
The LORD CHIEF BARON.-It is my opinion that you ought to liberate every person who is not dangerous to himself or to others. If the notion has got abroad that any person may be confined in a lunatic asylum or a madhouse who has any absurd or even mad opinion upon any religious subject, and is safe and harmless upon every other topic, I altogether and entirely differ with such an opinion; and I desire to impress that opinion with as much force as I can in the hearing of one of the commissioners.
Mr. Mylne's examination continued. The second time he saw this lady, she had declined and refused to enter into any private conversation with the commissioners, and therefore, in reference to that interview, they had not made any entry in the book. He was himself called to the bar in the year 1827, and had been appointed one of the Coinmissioners in Lunacy in 1832. It had been the unanimous opinion of the commissioners that Miss Nottidge was of unsound mind up to May, 1848.
The LORD CHIEF BARON.—You say of unsound mind, Mr. Mylne. Had she any unsoundness of mind upon any other subject under heaven except as to entertaining these peculiar religions notions ?
Mr. Mylne.—Miss Nottidge did not exhibit any symptoms of insanity upon any other subject. It was understood by the commissioners, in the month of May, that the health of the patient was suffering from the continued confinement, and they had, therefore, felt themselves justified in directing that she should be set at liberty. There were several persons under the care of Dr. Stillwell in his asylum, in respect of whom no commission de lunatico inquirendo had issued. There were about 500 patients who were in confinement under the warrants of the commissioners, and there were about 15,000 who were in confinement in asylums, in respect of whom there had been no commission of inquiry ; 9000 of that number, however, were in the pauper asylums.
The next witness, Mr. PROCTOR, said, he had been a Commissioner in Lunacy as many as seventeen years. He had seen this lady on the 1st of May, 1848. Monomaniacs were frequently under delusions in reference to matters of religion, and others in respect of other subjects. One of the results of that visit on the 1st of May was, that the patient was liberated. That which had passed upon the 1st of May at the meeting of the commissioners was reduced to writing, and put into the form of a report, which had been drawn up by himself. The witness had been of opinion that in May, 1848, the period at which Miss Nottidge had been liberated, her delusions on religious subjects still continued. Indeed, the circumstance of her having, since her release, transferred all her property over to Mr. Prince, the individual who, all through the proceedings, had appeared to be the main object of her delusions, had subsequently satisfied him that not only was she of unsound mind, but insane. The comınissioners did not think it advisable, where the disease appeared likely to be temporary only, that a Commission of Lunacy should be applied for.
Mr. STEDMAN was the medical attendant upon the family of the defendant Ripley. He had been called to see this lady, but he had declined to act in consequence of his being connected with the family, and he therefore suggested that other medical advice should be called in.
Mr. COCKBURN replied.
The Lord Chief Baron proceeded to sum up the evidence. His Lordship said, that the jury must find a verdict for the plaintiff upon the plea of " not guilty,” because the evidence had clearly proved that the defendants had been guilty of a portion of the acts which had been charged against them ; for it was proved that they had gone down to Charlinch and dragged the plaintiff from the peaceful and quiet home which she had selected; and then as to the next plea—the plea of justification-namely, that the plaintiff was a lunatic, and not capable of taking care of herself
, and was in such a state of mind as to be likely to injure herself and other persons, and that it was in consequence of her heing in that state that they had had her put in a place of safety-that plea was not made out. Now, he was bound to say, that the law had been correctly laid down by the learned counsel who had just sat down—namely, that if the jury considered, upon the evidence, that the plaintiff was not in such a state as to be dangerous to herself and others, then, that the plea to that effect not having been made out, the verdict ought to be for the plaintiff upon that issue also. The evidence had clearly shown, as applicable to this branch of the case, that the conduct of the plaintiff had been perfectly consistent, even in respect of her delusions. The lady entertained a strong opinion on a religious subject, and to that opinion, whether right or wrong, she had adhered. Then it appeared to him that the defendants were not in any way justified in having adopted the course they had taken, unless the jury should think that the plaintiff was of unsound mind, and dangerous to herself and others. If she were not so, then the defendants had no right to go down and drag ber away, as they had done, from her home, for Charlinch was the home she had chosen, and then to cause her to be placed in an asylum. If, then, the jury should be of opinion that the plaintiff was not in that state of danger, it was clear their verdict upon the second plea must be for the plaintiff also. The question, however, was entirely for the jury, and they must exercise their own judgment in the matter. If they should in the end determine upon finding for the plaintiff, then they would have to consider what amount of damages they would award to a lady who, although perfectly sane, unless it were upon the subject of religion, had been incarcerated in a lunatic asylum for the space of seventeen months. There could be no doubt, if this lady was not insane and dangerous, that a most unjustifiable outrage had been committed upon her by the defendants in their own persons--a most unjustifiable outrage had been committed upon a lady who, it was admitted, was upon all other subjects perfectly sane. But the defendants had said that they bad taken this step for the purpose of rescuing a beloved relative from the pernicious examples of a class of persons who entertained certain peculiar notions upon religion. His own idea of toleration was, that all those who entertained with sincerity any peculiar doctrine,
however absurd that doctrine might appear to others to be, ought to be allowed to enjoy that opinion without interference, so long as the principles and the acts they adopted, were not forced offensively, or contrary to law, upon the public notice, or against the public morals. If such persons sincerely entertained these doctrines, then they were, in his opinion, as much entitled to be treated with respect as any other religious sect. But whilst this was so, the majority of persons in this country might look with horror and disgust at the views which these people had adopted. This was only one of the many bursts of strange fancies, with regard to religion, with which the country had been visited upon various occasions. There was one point in this transaction upon which he felt called upon to offer a remark. It was, that whilst three of these sisters had been married to three members of this fraternity, not one of them had had the precaution of having a settlement drawn. It would have been not merely wise, but nothing more than right, that settlements should have been made to provide a maintenance for the wives, in the event of anything happening to the husbands. It would have been well if these gentlemen had had this done, for much cause of suspi. cion, of imputed motives in uniting themselves to ladies much older than themselves, would thereby have been removed. He very much doubted whether, if in this case the plaintiff had been a man, or living under the protection of a husband, the defendants would have dared to have taken the step they had. When consulted by the mother, they ought to have refused to have taken that step, until a medical examination, or an inquiry by commission, had been made. But they had not done so, and therefore they had made themselves liable to such å verdict as the jury might think fit to impose upon them.
The jury retired for an hour, and then came back with a verdict for the plaintiff
, damages 501., and said, they begged to give their opinion that the defendants had not been actuated by any mercenary or unworthy motives in the steps they had taken.
The damages were laid at 1,0001. in the declaration.
BOOKS AND JOURNALS RECEIVED FOR REVIEW.
Sixth Report of the Managers of the State Lunatic Asylum, U. S., America, 1849, (will be reviewed in the next number.)
Health of Towns; a Digest of several Reports on Sanitary Reform, by W. Simpson, Esq., Surgeon.
Hospital Reports and other Documents, from the German.
Proceedings of the Westminster Medical Society, Sess. 1848-9.
Recherches sur la Paralysie Générale Progressive, &c., par le Dr. L. Lunier, Paris, 1849.
A Remonstrance to the Lord Chief Baron, touching the case of Nottidge v. Ripley, by J. Conolly, M.D. Third edition, Lond. 1849.
These pour Le Doctorat en Médecine, par Antoine Emile Blanche, du Cathé. terisme cesophagien chez les Aliénés. Paris, 1848.
The Morningside Mirror,
On Hip Joint Disease, by W. C. Hugman, Surgeon. Lond. 1849. (An able and useful treatise.)
On Ceriainty in Medicine, by E. Bartlett, M.D. New York, 1848. (A valuable con:ribution to medical science.)
On the Pathology of Croup, by Horace Green, A.M., M.D., New York. John Wiley, New York, 1849.
Report of the County Lunatic Asylum, Gloucester, 1849.
Fifty-second Report of the Institution, Dear York, called the Retreat, for Insane Persons, 1848.
Report of the Kent Lunatic Asylum, 1849.
Report of the Lunatic Asylum for the North and East Riding of Yorkshire, 1849.
Twenty-eighth Annual Report of the Dundee Asylum, 1849.
JOURNALS IN EXCHANGE.
Provincial, Medical, and Sargical Journal. Regularly.
just received.) Regularly. The Transactions of the Provincial, Medical, and Surgical Association. Vol.
XVI., Part II. London: J. Churchill. Nos. XXXIV. & XXXV. of the American Journal of Medical Science.
Edited by Isaac Hays, M.D. Philadelphia, 1849. An able periodical. Will be noticed in our next.
Press of matter has compelled us to defer the publication of several articles of interest and value. Among these is a lengthy analysis of the Reports of the British County Lunatic Asylums, which will certainly appear in the next number of the Journal, as well as notices of most of the works received. Parties desiring an exchange of journals may effect their object by applying
to the publisher. Full Price given for copies of No. II. of the “ Journal of Psychological Medicine."
INDEX FOR VOL. I. & II. Some of our correspondents have complained of the Index to Vol. I. of the Journal not being sufficiently copious. With the view of remedying this alleged defect, we have bad prepared a more full analysis of the volume, which we publish conjointly with the Index for Vol. II.
INDEX TO VOL. II.
ABERCROMBIE, on phantasms of the
dark ages, 220, 234, 240.
paying a small sum, in England,
similar deficiency in Ireland,
of insane condition, 213.
northern states, ratio of more
resemblances and differences between,
morbid, of mental diseases,
Dr. Wigan on, 507–510.
on lupacy, 246.
for life of Dean Swift, 349.
discursive nature of the work,
Artois, general charge of sorcery
duties of the commissioners in lunacy,
of Nantes, 147.
-admissions, and re-admis-
ages of patients in, 200.
admissions arranged ac-
lunatic, in America, 398.
New York, state lunatic asylum,
travelling commission of, 413.
new county, for Middlesex, at
Hanwell lunatic, fourth report
Bandages, tight, dangerous to functions
- not confined to lower orders
ultimate bad results from, 31.
erroneous views of those who